Teen sentenced to jail for wreck that killed graduate

Woman, 16, gets year in jail following accident that killed Evans High grad

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The teen driver involved in a May wreck in which a 17-year-old died was sentenced Friday to serve jail time.

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Amber Rose Lever, 16, lost control of a sport utility vehicle and hit a tree. She will serve a year in jail for the fatal accident. Gazaway's mother said she would have preferred community service for Lever.   File/Staff
File/Staff
Amber Rose Lever, 16, lost control of a sport utility vehicle and hit a tree. She will serve a year in jail for the fatal accident. Gazaway's mother said she would have preferred community service for Lever.


Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan sentenced Amber Rose Lever, 16, to a year in jail.

On May 26, Lever was driving a friend's Mercury Mountaineer on South Old Belair Road when she veered onto Old Belair Lane. She hit a trash can, lost control of the sport utility vehicle and hit a tree.

Lever was driving on a Class D license with five passengers. Such a license prohibits her from having more than one nonfamily member younger than 21 as a passenger.

Taylor Gazaway, 17, was in the back seat and died shortly after the wreck. He and another backseat passenger were not wearing seatbelts.

"He was my best friend," Lever told the judge. "If I could've traded places with Taylor, I would've in a heartbeat. ... I love him so much."

Lever was charged with driving too fast for conditions, second-degree vehicular homicide and a license violation for having too many passengers.

"They were very close, they loved each other," Gazaway's mother, Dana Banker, told Flanagan before the sentence. "I don't think that jail is the place for her."

Banker said she'd rather see Lever do community service speaking to young drivers.

The wreck was Lever's second license violation for driving with too many passengers in less than six months, Flanagan said. For that first offense, she received probation, a brief license suspension, community service and a fine.

"Because of her inability to control the vehicle, which happens when you are newly driving, which is why you're not supposed to have other people in the car, someone is dead. Other people got injured," Flanagan said.

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Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 07/15/11 - 03:01 pm
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This article should be

This article should be required reading for every middle and high school student in the county. If only Lever had listened to the law upon recieving her license, or listened on the first offense, or listened to her parents...a young man would be alive today.

The article says she borrowed the Mercury from a friend, sounds like the parents were not aware of the situation.

As hard as it seems, better for her to do one year in jail, than continue on the path of hard headedness and lawlessness that would ultimately cost her life and others.

As a parent, my heart goes out to Taylor Gazaway's family, and the parents of Amber Lever. It will surely be a year's sentence for Lever's parents. May God use this circumstance to do a work in Amber's life that has eternal value to herself and countless others and comfort and strengthen her parents.

scoobynews
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scoobynews 07/15/11 - 03:35 pm
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Wow we needed Judge Flanagan

Wow we needed Judge Flanagan on the Casey Anthony trial. A teen drives irresponsibly and is taught a hard lesson. Casey Anthony is responsible somehow for the death of her daughter and will walk this weekend.

david jennings
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david jennings 07/15/11 - 03:48 pm
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Casey Anthony?Man what has

Casey Anthony?Man what has that got to do with anything?

InChristLove
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InChristLove 07/15/11 - 03:48 pm
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Difference scoobynews, there

Difference scoobynews, there was proof that Amber was guilty, she was caught driving. There is no evidence that proves Casey was guilty although many feel she is. The judge doesn't decide guilty or innocent, the jurors do. He only does the sentencing and according to the crime Casey was charged with, she is not walking free, she's already spent a year in jail for the crime she's been sentenced for.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 07/15/11 - 03:51 pm
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Willow, I agree with your

Willow, I agree with your comment. As a parent, my heart goes out for both of these families. When I heard the sentence I was shocked until I read where this was not her first offense. Sometimes lessons are hard, we just hope our kids learn from them and do not repeat them. Hopefully she will look to God for inner strength and use this time to maybe reach other teens in jail to become productive individuals when they are released instead of continuing down a distructive path.

pommom38
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pommom38 07/15/11 - 04:10 pm
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I knew the Anthony garbage

I knew the Anthony garbage would be brought up again. Get over it already.
I already said this teen should learn a lesson, now that i've read she doesn't know how to follow the law TWICE in less than 6 months, well...
Why does *I can do what I want* mentality come to mind?? Serve your time, and learn from this already!!

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 07/15/11 - 04:12 pm
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Willow, I did exactly what

Willow, I did exactly what you mentioned...I read this to my young daughter, who has a learner's permit. As I read it, I couldn't help but empathize with both sets of parents...putting my own daughter in the place of both teens. I felt so very sorry for this young girl, but it was admittedly tempered when I read that she violated her probation from a previous infraction..still sad. Frustrating for the parents.

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 07/15/11 - 04:12 pm
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Judge Flanagan, I am proud of

Judge Flanagan,

I am proud of you!

broad street narrow mind
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broad street narrow mind 07/15/11 - 04:23 pm
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raise the driving age. this
Unpublished

raise the driving age. this poor kid just drove badly like we all did when we were sixteen. newsflash. sixteen-year-olds are terrible drivers. there was no malice. it's like giving a baby a gun and then putting it in jail when it shoots someone.

broad street narrow mind
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broad street narrow mind 07/15/11 - 04:25 pm
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if she'd only had one other
Unpublished

if she'd only had one other person in the car, that person could have died. the people outside the car can die. i can see that not allowing a little kid party in the car is a good idea, but anytime a kid gets to drive a big boy and big girl car it's a little kid party. raise the age limit.

eagle
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eagle 07/15/11 - 04:37 pm
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Sounds like another Lindsay
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Sounds like another Lindsay Lohan sentence...break the law and walk. She needs to spend more time in jail!!

david jennings
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david jennings 07/15/11 - 04:40 pm
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It is way more than sixteen

It is way more than sixteen year olds that are bad drivers,just get on 520 W.bound around 5 from Laney Walker to Washington Rd. any afternoon,good luck.

broad street narrow mind
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broad street narrow mind 07/15/11 - 04:57 pm
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i agree that kids aren't the
Unpublished

i agree that kids aren't the only bad drivers, but let's be realistic. all of us were pretty horrible drivers at sixteen. the part of the brain that understands consequences isn't fully developed until later. leave the life and death consequences for when we can perceive them.

Willow Bailey
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Willow Bailey 07/15/11 - 06:49 pm
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broadstreet, I so agree with

broadstreet, I so agree with the driving age needing to be raised. However, as parents, we are still able to set our own boundaries with driving. We did not allow our daughter to get her learner’s permit until she was 16 and drivers license until 17. Then she had to attend driving school , have a probation period of 6 months driving only with us and alone and only to and from school. There was also no night driving immediately. Even when she became legal, we never allowed her to have more than two others in her car (our preference was one). And much prayer continues for her driving today.

We need to realize our world has changed from the time we got our licenses. Busier roadways, multiple lanes of traffic, higher speeds, cell phones, texting, distracting music, less maturity, increased sense of arrogance, alcohol and drugs and road rage.

While ours may not even be guilty of any of the above, they still run the risk of encountering drivers who do. They need more time to mature and to practice safe driving habits. The goal is to delay, delay, delay, until they grow up a little.

Teenage driving within 6 months of receiving licenses may be the top killer of teens in America. That is why we have this law.
Don't be afraid to be unliked by your teen. If they don't occasionally hate you, you are not doing your job.

mc
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mc 07/15/11 - 06:44 pm
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It seems as though the only

It seems as though the only time anybody drives by the law is when there's a car with ligths on top near them. Some are worse than others. It's like I'm in somebodies way most the time. I think we all could take a lesson from this.

belle
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belle 07/15/11 - 08:13 pm
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16 has nothing to do with
Unpublished

16 has nothing to do with it..someone to failed to make this girl a believer that there WILL be consequences when you break a law. ANY law. Not only did this girl not learn from the first accident, there are plenty of pictures on facebook of her with friends (not necessarily her but ALL underage) drinking and playing beer pong just a week or so later. Parents, you catch your child driving someone they shouldn't....you take the keys away for a LONG time. Long enough for them to be totally "bummed" about it. They get caught drinking underage, you lock 'em down at home. NO going anywhere (this means you too Mom and Dad) until they are completely miserable. If the parents and educators don't give them consequences (above and beyond what the courts do), they will not respect the law and they will not learn.

blues550
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blues550 07/16/11 - 05:57 am
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Agreed. At first this looked
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Agreed. At first this looked over the top but as a repeat offender she more than deserved the sentence.

scoobynews
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scoobynews 07/16/11 - 07:55 am
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David it was simply a

David it was simply a COMPARISON and a touch of sarcasm of how our judicial system works. A young teenage girl accidently kills her friend through her irresponsible actions and she gets a YEAR in jail. Casey Anthony is responsible (regardless of what the jury decided IMO) for the death of her daughter because she was the last person she was known to be with and she WALKS out of jail a free woman. I sometimes find that the judicial system is not as fair or great as we seem to think it is because it is still ultimately controlled by the judgement of others who may or may not be making the right call. I think this young lady is being taught a hard lesson and may well deserve it considering she killed her friend and had been charged with driving with too many people once already. Yet we can set a woman free who was responsible for a 2 year old. A 17 year is old enough to make a choice about getting a car with a person who has already been in trouble for reckless driving a 2 year has no such choices. It is sad that 2 lives are lost yet no justice on earth will bring them back. People make bad choices and it cost others their lives. Why is it one got punished and another did not? Does this mean I think other countries judicial process is any better? No but we do need to acknowledge is far from perfect.

scoobynews
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scoobynews 07/16/11 - 08:17 am
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InChrist as stated to David

InChrist as stated to David my comment was more of a comparison and sarcasim as to how the system works. I don't give a fig what the jury in the Anthony trial decided any woman who walks out of a house with their 2 year old and then a month later that child is dead then she is responsible. She served time for lying not the death of her child. This young girl is being given a hard lesson for accidently killing her friend through irresponsible behavior. Wasn't it also irresponsible behavior that led to the death of an innocent 2 year old? The big picture here being that we can sentence a young girl a year in jail for an accidental death yet let one walk after her child who was last seen with her is found with duck tape wrapped around her head dumped dead in a swamp.

scoobynews
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scoobynews 07/16/11 - 08:24 am
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pommom last time I checked

pommom last time I checked this was a comment board which means I can comment about whatever I want as long as it is not a personal attack or harassment of others. My comment on the Anthony case was to show the unequal justice we have in our judical system. I fully agree that this girl should have gotten the sentence that she recieved. It will teach her a good hard lesson yet a few months ago we saw the death of another young woman who was a passanger in a car driven by a man who had SEVERAL previous arrest for DUI and reckless driving. Why on earth was this guy still on the streets??? This young woman would be alive today had the book been thrown at him years ago. We tell kids that all punishments are suppose to be fair and equal and they are not.

dougk
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dougk 07/16/11 - 08:45 am
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Willow: "Don't be afraid to
Unpublished

Willow: "Don't be afraid to be unliked by your teen. If they don't occasionally hate you, you are not doing your job."

No truer statement has ever been made.

allhans
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allhans 07/16/11 - 09:02 am
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Seeing as how it was her

Seeing as how it was her second offense, the sentence doesn't seem to be too harsh, but let us not forget, there were 5 others in the car that also should know better.

mybaskett
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mybaskett 07/16/11 - 09:09 am
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I agree with Willow 100%.

I agree with Willow 100%. What amazes me is the comments in reference to those initialy thinking the punishment was too harsh, until realizing this was her second offense. If this were her 1st offense the punishment fit the crime. I sympathize for both families, but this young lady knew that she had restrictions on her license when driving, but yet chose to drive. The lesson that I wanted my teenage daughter to learn from this is,when you know that your friend is still driving with restrictions, DO NOT GET IN THE CAR WITH THEM. For females, it's like having a slumber party in the car. Too many distractions. Our daughter has been told that if she receives one violation her car will be have a sign on it saying FOR SALE. God bless both families.

Patty-P
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Patty-P 07/16/11 - 09:37 am
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My heart goes out to her

My heart goes out to her parents and the parents of the other(s). She will certainly learn a lesson, especially being a second offense. Willow's statement is very true. I couldn't agree more.

class1
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class1 07/16/11 - 09:37 am
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This law is being broken

This law is being broken daily by young drivers because they think they don't have to follow it. Additionally, there are a lot of parents that aren't enforcing this law with the kids.

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 07/16/11 - 09:44 am
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Teenagers will always presume
Unpublished

Teenagers will always presume that they know more than the adults and that our rules are "stupid" or "lame" until something like this happens. I think jail is the place for Amber Lever. Although it may be years before she makes the connection that her negligence of the law did in fact cause her friend's death.

I was fortunate that my father gave me a standard cab truck when I was 16 so it was impossible for me to have more than two passengers. Some of the smaller standard cab trucks even have a console in the middle that makes it even more difficult to transport other passengers.

AutumnLeaves
8613
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AutumnLeaves 07/16/11 - 11:19 am
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I've noticed the youngsters

I've noticed the youngsters that have the little older model pickup trucks with the limited seating do seem to be more responsible as long as they aren't tempted to allow people to sit in the truck bed. Good thinking on the part of the parents to provide them with vehicles like this to start with if they provide anything to drive.

erniereed
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erniereed 07/16/11 - 02:39 pm
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First of all, I want to say

First of all, I want to say sorry for the parents of this young person losing his life at such an early age. The problem that I have is when parents of kids do something and the first thing they say is my child does not need to go to prison. She should get community service. This young man is not going to have a chance to do community service when this person was already on probation for what, driving and not having a supervised adult in the car, for what, 5 or more people in the car. My father admonished me the first time, and he stated to me "if you get into trouble after not learning from the first time" son you will have to bump". I went right out there and did it again. Guess what I paid the consequences too. Parents have to stop taking up for their children when they have been admonished adneusum. How are the kids going to learn from their mistakes if the system keep letting them get away with everything. I guess that I have a Marine's mentality. My kids do something they are going to hear it. When they are wrong they will apologize. Parents will look at their kids stealing in the store and see that child put the items in his or her pocket, then as soon as the person sees them stealing the parent or parents try to justify that he or she is not stealing. This is an example of my message about doing what is right, here. We can love our children, but when is enough-enough.

erniereed
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erniereed 07/16/11 - 02:58 pm
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Hey dougk. you hit the nail

Hey dougk. you hit the nail dead on. Parents now-a-days want to be friends instead of the enforcer. Automobiles are not toys. It is bad enough that DDRIVERS are out there. A person driving that should not be driving without an adult. That's just crazy. Stop the friendship, and be a parent. Ideally, your kids will love you more and 10 yrs down the road, they will come up to you and say Mommy and Daddy thank you for being hard on me. I am 35 yrs old, and 8 mths ago. I called my daddy and said thank you for being hard on me.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 07/16/11 - 03:04 pm
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erniereed....I'm so glad I'm

erniereed....I'm so glad I'm not the only person that feels that way. From what I've seen, especially here lately, is a system that is constantly making excuses for kids and their wrongdoings. And my dad was a Marine so maybe it was my upbringing. I am grateful that my parents raised me the way they did and that I don't have to grow up in today's corrupt system. I'm certain that this young lady will learn from this and hope that others learn from it as well.

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